The world seems upside down right now. Key SCOTUS decisions have worked against the church. Rioters are ruling some regions. Covid-19 lurks behind every corner…or else it was a big hoax (for all the doubters out there). Unemployment, job loss, no church, fear…the news is bad right now.
Today, I want to talk about being encouraged. I think the Bible gives us five principles to live by.
Principle 1: God Knows
Cliche as it may be, the truth is the same. God knows our troubles, Jesus lived them. He lived in a time of rioters, oppression, famine, poverty, no air conditioning. Christ Jesus says, “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher…so have no fear of them…but even the hairs of your head are all numbered,” (Matt 10:24-33). Jesus promises both trouble, because the world troubled him, and God’s oversight and provision because the Father watches over all who belong to Him.
Principle 2: Christ Will Come When It is Time
Jesus warns the disciples that great unrest will rise and fall like the tides. However, you will not miss the end. You can be encouraged by this because you choose to live each day as if it belongs to the Lord rather than to the uncertainty of the world around us. The Father, who knows you, will initiate the end of all these ups and downs. We continue to value each day the Lord gives us to do the work of Christ (Mark 13:7-8).
Principle 3: Participate with the Lord’s Work
Trouble causes people to retreat to the strongholds in their thoughts or homes. Many people feel they need to hunker down. However, the way to be encouraged is to know that you have followed the Lord “into the breach.” Jesus illustrated that safety and protection are under the Lord’s hand when he slept in the boat while his disciples panicked that the boat they were in would be swept into the Sea of Galilee by a storm. He chastised them for their fear. If you are with Christ, be encouraged that the effort will succeed (See Matthew 8:23-27).
Principle 4: God is Growing You
Jesus delayed so a man could die! Yes, that’s right, before he raised Lazarus, he stalled his return to Bethany so that Lazarus would die. Jesus tells his disciples, because they do not understand Jesus’ actions, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14-15). We don’t understand all the ways of God, his delays, his permitting of bad things to happen to faithful people, the loss of loved ones. However, we can be encouraged when we know that God is working for our good.
Principle 5: We Never Stumble Upon Encouragement, We Choose It
The often corrupted verse of Philippians 4:13 illuminates this point. Paul does not say he has found the secret to finding a way to leverage God’s power to help him overcome – God is not his superpower for hard stuff. He says he has found the secret to “facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. He then tells us of the resolute position he has taken: “I can do all things through Him who strengthen’s me.” In other words, he has chosen to trust the Lord in whatever circumstance. The strength he needs is available as a choice to stay with the Lord despite the trouble.